Kids' apps get a failing report-card on privacy

A Federal Trade Commission report on data-collection in kids' apps paints a dismal picture of compliance with privacy and data-collection regulations. The survey found that most apps aimed at small children failed to disclose their data-collection practices.

The agency reviewed 400 of the most popular children’s apps available on Google and Apple platforms, and reported that only 20 percent disclosed their data collection practices.

“The survey results described in this report paint a disappointing picture of the privacy protections provided by apps for children,” the report said.

Regulators said they were investigating whether the practices of certain apps violated a federal law requiring Web site operators to get parents’ permission before collecting or sharing names, phone numbers, addresses or other personal information obtained from children under 13.

It's part of a larger pattern of dysfunction with electronic media and kids. For example, the license agreement for all the online ebook stores says that you're not allowed to lend or share your ebooks, but they also all heavily promote books aimed at children who are too young to have their own credit-cards. Judging from the license agreements, these bookstores expect that their electronic kids' picture books are being bought by grownups for their own consumption, and not for "sharing" with the children in their lives.

Apps for Children Fall Short on Disclosure to Parents, Report Says [NYT/Natasha Singer] (Thanks, Peter!)


  1. In marketing terms, I’m pretty sure that ‘kid’ is just another word for “soft target”.

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